By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service
DALLAS — Anyone who knows the Bible shouldn’t take issue with the idea that God has given President Trump authority to take out North Korea’s dictator, said Pastor Robert Jeffress, the Dallas megachurch leader who drew sharp rebukes for stating just that.
Jeffress sat down for an interview with RNS after his sermon Sunday (Aug. 13), just days after his words made headlines around the world. Christians and non-Christians accused him of exacerbating an already alarming war of words between Trump and the temperamental, young leader of nuclear-armed North Korea.
The critics have overreacted, said Jeffress, lead pastor of First Baptist Dallas, whose public observances on current events have not for the first time made him a target. A public pastor with the president’s ear, Jeffress, 61, does not shy away from sharing his belief that Scripture should undergird politics and diplomacy.
“What I said was that the Bible has given government the authority to use whatever force necessary, including assassination or war, to topple an evil dictator like Kim Jong Un,” said Jeffress, elaborating on a Tuesday (Aug. 8) statement in which he said that God has giving Trump “authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
“That authority comes from Romans 13. Paul said that government has been established by God to be an avenger of those who practice evil,” Jeffress told RNS. “I made it very clear that Romans 12 says we are to forgive one another when people offend us — don’t repay evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.
“But in Romans 13, Paul isn’t talking about individual Christians. He’s talking about government. Government is an organization God uses to bring vengeance against those who practice evil.”
Jeffress said his statement wasn’t the same as saying that “God ordained President Trump to nuke North Korea.”
But many thought it came too close.
Religion News Service is a national wire service with more than 100 secular and religious media subscribers, including USA Today, the Washington Post and NPR.